How to Write a Startup Business Plan
A startup business plan is a written document that outlines your ideas and strategies for launching, managing, and eventually exiting your new venture. Creating a comprehensive and well-researched plan is essential if you have chosen to write a startup business plan and are eager to get underway.
What is the importance of having a startup business plan?
Writing a startup business plan should not be problematic. In this “How to Guide,” we will demonstrate how you can quickly and easily create a business plan that will get the outcomes you want, whether it’s to support starting your business, crowdfunding, seeking a bank loan, investor financing, new business partners, or a business manager/ entrepreneur visa application.
Try to avoid procrastinating or feeling that you do not have the right skills to create a great plan.
Our short guide will describe creating your professional business plan without complexity or irritation.
All these models come with helpful guides and examples to help you create a fantastic business plan for your company.
What should be included in a startup business plan?
A startup business plan is a comprehensive document defining your essential business model and operations.
You typically include your business objectives and how you intend to accomplish them over a set timeframe (short and long-term goals).
The startup business plan aims to assist you and your business plan readers in comprehending how you plan to make money and create a viable business model.
A business plan regularly contains data about your company, products, services, business goals, growth strategies, marketing and sales strategies, operations plans, management team, and financial projections.
There is no set page count, and depending on your business plan purpose, you may create one master business plan, which you then abridge based on your needs.
You may pull out the company overview and strategy for recruits while focusing more on the financials for investor or financing discussions.
You may have a Word document, a presentation, or both or multiple documents.
It is your business plan, so you will evolve and develop your understanding as you become more comfortable with the development process.
Which format to use for your startup business plan
There’s no right way to write a business plan. The most important part is creating a plan that suits your specific needs.
Generally speaking, there are two types of business plans: traditional and lean startup. Traditional plans are more common and follow a standard format, providing detailed information in each section. These plans require much upfront work and can be lengthy, often spanning dozens of pages.
On the other hand, lean startup plans are less common but still follow a standard format. They focus on summarizing the most essential elements of your plan and can be completed in as little as an hour, with most only being one page in length.
SBA Traditional business plan format
If you pay attention to detail, desire a complete plan, or seek funding from conventional sources, a traditional business plan format might suit you better. While drafting your startup business plan, you do not have to follow the prescribed outline. Instead, select the sections that align with your business and requirements.
Typically, traditional business plans are comprised of a mix of the following nine sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
Before writing your startup business plan, read these SBA example business plans from fictional business owners. Rebecca owns a consulting firm, and Andrew owns a toy company. They have both used the traditional business plan format.
SBA Lean business plan format
Suppose you want to start or explain your business quickly. A lean startup format may be the way to go if you have a relatively simple business or plan to refine your business plan regularly. These formats use only a few elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They can help you visualize tradeoffs and essential facts about your company.
There are various ways to create a lean startup template; you can find free templates online. We cover nine essential components of a model business plan below.
- Key Partnerships
- Key Activities
- Key Resources
- Value Proposition
- Customer Relationships
- Customer Segments
- Selling Channels
- Cost Structure
- Revenue Streams (sales forecast)
Check out this example SBA lean startup business plan written by a fictional toy company owner, Andrew, before you start writing your own.
Read on below for more information about the key sections of a Traditional Business Plan.
When creating a business plan for your startup, it’s essential to determine the appropriate format.
The crucial elements of a successful business plan differ based on whether you have a traditional or lean business plan. The sections below use the format the US Small Business Administration (US-SBA) suggested.
Quickly inform your reader what your business is and why it will be a success. Incorporate your business purpose, immediate goals, mission statement, and essential information about your company’s management team and whereabouts.
You must also incorporate financial plan data and your high-level strategic growth plans if you intend to request bank loan financing or investment from an external partner.
It is also helpful to include the business plan purpose, i.e., starting a business, growth strategy, loan, investment, business partner, or for personal use.
It is an excellent opportunity to offer thorough information about your story and business goals and articulate the problems your business resolves. Be specific; list the customers or target companies your business proposes distributing services to.
Describe the unique business proposition that gives you a competitive advantage and will make your business a success story. Do you have a great product idea? Are there specialists within your firm that differentiate you from the competition? Have you discovered the ideal location for your business (whether it is a store, salon, or restaurant)?
Your company overview is the section where you describe and share your strengths. It is your spotlight moment.
Products and Services:
Define the products and services that you offer your customers. Describe how customers gain using your services, innovation strategy, and product lifecycle process.
Communicate your plans for trademarks, registering any copyright, intellectual property, or country-specific patent filings. Include any product trialing, manufacturing development, or research underway for your offerings.
Include product or service imagery, traction to date, and key clients.
A mission statement is a crucial means that, in some ways, can be as vital as your business plan. In a few concise sentences, it encapsulates the spirit of your business, your goals, your team, and the philosophies fundamental to them.
Your mission statement must signify your business’s unique position and market niche.
Your mission statement will follow the overarching vision for your business.
Depending on your business stage, you may also want to include your values and the organizational culture you seek to establish.
Business Goals and Objectives:
An essential part of the business planning process is establishing business objectives that can become achievable business goals.
It is helpful to make sure your business goals are SMART.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.
Market Research and Analysis:
It is helpful to include and demonstrate that you have a good grasp of your target market, whether this is your current market or growth market.
Everyone wants to conquer the world, but is that realistic in the first year?
As part of your market research and industry analysis, perhaps start your focus with a town/ regional bias within your base country before taking on broader market segments.
It is good practice to describe your industry overall and its potential, and you can access free research online or at your local library or business center.
For your customers, include an analysis of the typical profile.
- Are you targeting business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B)?
- What are the purchasing habits and retention lifecycle?
- How would you like to engage with them, i.e., through face-to-face events?
Include research on your competitors. Try to include three competitors (check out their websites. If they have a store, go and use their services), and describe at a high level what they offer, their strengths and weaknesses, and any customer reviews (from Trustpilot, Facebook) and pricing insights you can obtain quickly.
In your market analysis overall, try to articulate upcoming market trends that you will be able to leverage to support your growth ambitions.
- Are your competitors doing something great?
- Is it sustainable?
- Are you ready to do it better?
- What are the barriers to entry for the industry or market?
These are the questions to answer in your market research.
Marketing and Sales Plan:
Your Marketing strategy will grow, adjust, and scale to fit your unique business requirements. Different methods exist to attract new people to your website, get people to call you, or visit your store.
- Your aim in this segment is to explain how you will appeal to and keep hold of your loyal customers. You will also describe your sales process and how the team will make a sale happen.
- Do they do this via cold calling or networking, or is it all automatic via your website?
The sales process will also support your financial forecasts, so you must understand how you bring in the money,
As a startup business. You may not necessarily require an operations plan, so feel free to leave this section out.
This section explains the critical area of your business operations
- the physical location of your business operations,
- any process and systems flow that is integral to your operations,
- site layout and onsite facilities
- your internal technology (i.e., accounting software, email, website),
- legal requirements (i.e., GDPR, employee insurance,
- and your employee structure (i.e., permanent, temporary, hiring plan)
It is helpful to include a milestone plan of upcoming activities related to your business operations (i.e. when you intend to hire or open new locations).
Company and Management:
Define how your business is structured legally and whether it will be a sole trader, limited company, partnership, non-profit, or other business registration form.
For your management team, include a bio with a picture of each member and describe their experience and strengths. If you have time and the team size warrants the detail, use an organizational chart to show the hierarchy of each function.
It is always good to recognize where you have gaps in experience and have sought guidance and business advisors to coach the team in these areas as you scale up your business.
No one knows everything when they start their business, so acknowledging that and seeking guidance adds credibility to your startup business plan.
If you plan to seek funding, this section will help you to describe the monies you desire and the purpose. You aim to articulate how much financing you need, the duration you require the funds for, how you plan to use the capital, your ideal terms for borrowing, and whether you want debt or equity.
Indicate if you require monies to purchase materials, consulting services, website design, new equipment, payroll, or cover invoices during cash flow shortfall. Always incorporate an explanation of your potential revenue gains and how you have calculated this into a healthy financial plan.
Augment your funding request with your forecasts to demonstrate that you have a stable, viable business. If your business is already proven and you have cash flowing readily, include your last accounts.
Provide your financial outlook for the next three to five years. Include your projected statements, Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow, and budget forecasts.
For the first year, include more details and use monthly estimates. Clearly explain your calculations and link them to your funding requirements. Include tables and charts to help tell your financial story if you desire.
Use your appendix to offer assisting documents or additional materials that were explicitly requested.
For example, you may want to include:
- thorough business forecasts and assumptions
- market research data and consumer findings that support your analysis
- CVs of critical people (vital if you are requesting outside funding)
- product information or technological design
For business plan document samples, look at BPlans and see examples across multiple industries of what a complete business plan should look like when finished.
Do you need help and support writing your startup business plan?
If you are contemplating more than a business plan template, we have other resources to assist you:
- Check out Bplans’ step-by-step guide to writing a business plan or Startup Donut’s essential guide with comprehensive instructions. Both lead you through the business planning process.
- For business plan software choices, there are loads on the We use LivePlan for business planning and financial management. It comprises full financial projections (no spreadsheets necessary), simple pitch presentations, and more to help you plan and manage your business.
- If you would still benefit from additional guidance, you can hire a business plan expert to support you with your business plan development.
- To learn more about the Noirwolf Consulting team and how we can help you scale your business operations, email us, and let’s talk.
Get in Touch
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